My search for "the perfect Linux operating system" this time brings me to the latest incarnation of Ubuntu, version 5.04, also known as the "Hoary Hedgehog Release". Previously I was using Fedora Core 4, however due to some minor bugs it had, I wanted to try something different. The bugs I had experienced with Fedora Core 4 weren't all that severe mind you, and Fedora Core 4 isn't all that bad, I suppose it served as the reason I needed to try another Linux OS. This is not the first Ubuntu release I've used though, as I had installed the previous release (version 4.10) at one time. Ubuntu version 4.10 was superb as a Gnome OS, though it didn't work out so well for me when installing KDE. I know it's rather late to release an article regarding Ubuntu 5.04, however having used it for several months I thought it would be good to write a review about it.
What Is Ubuntu?
Ubuntu is an open-source Linux operating system with financial backing from Canonical Ltd. From the official website, Ubuntu is described as "a free, open source operating system that starts with the breadth of Debian and adds regular releases (every six months), a clear focus on the user and usability (it should "Just Work", TM) and a commitment to security updates with 18 months of support for every release. Ubuntu ships with the latest Gnome release as well as a selection of server and desktop software that makes for a comfortable desktop experience off a single installation CD."
I couldn't have said it better myself. One of the things that makes Ubuntu great to me is the fact that Canonical goes out of their way to make sure that everyone has access to their operating system. Not only do they provide free downloads, they also provide official pressed CD-Roms that can be shipped to you free of charge. I can't imagine how much that must cost them, but it's much appreciated, and demonstrates the fact that Canonical is serious when it comes to providing a solid, free open-source operating system.Test System
Ubuntu's installer doesn't have the eye candy or even the ease of use of the Anaconda installer that Red Hat and Fedora ships with. Most of the installation screens were easy for me to follow, while others made me read the screen several times to make sure that I wasn't going to overwrite an important partition. Although you are really only supposed to see the installation screen once, it would be very nice if it was remade to be easier to understand, or better yet, use the Anaconda installer instead. I'm not sure if the Anaconda installer is even compatible with the Debian package system which Ubuntu uses, but it would be nice if it was.
The Desktop, Gnome 2.10
By default, the desktop environment you see after logging in is Gnome. Gnome is very solid and user friendly, with focus on being organized and easy to use. When you first log in, you see nothing on your desktop. No shortcut icons, nor device icons. Even your trash icon is located on the taskbar, rather than the actual Desktop. This is not a bad thing, as upon further inspection, you'll see that everything you need to get started is located in the "Applications" menu, and your devices are automatically populated under the "Places" menu. For administrative changes to your PC, the "System" menu houses everything you need. The Desktop of Ubuntu is also quite fast and gets the job done.
Memory and CPU management also seems to be very good with this OS. As I'm writing this, I currently have Evolution (Email), Firefox (Web Browser), a Terminal, and Open Office running, and my CPU usage is only 21% with just 149.8MB out of my total 768MB of memory being used. This is much lower than I noticed with other distributions, even with fewer programs open.
Users of Mozilla Firefox will feel right at home with Ubuntu. Firefox is included with Ubuntu and is set up as the default browser. Web browsing with Firefox is fast and efficient, it's themeable and the official website houses quite a few neat plugins to provide various results from RSS feeds to different toolbars. For those of you who like to chat, Gaim is included and works well. Gaim supports such services as Yahoo Instant Messenger and AOL Instant Messenger, all under one hood.
- "Ubuntu Hoary, 1/2"
- "Ubuntu Hoary, 2/2"